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Rabat: a city with a Spanish, not only a French, connection.
With recent instability in North Africa, tourism to sunny Morocco has understandably decreased. However with exciting things happening in its capital, Rabat is a destination to add to your list of places to visit in the near future.
Founded in 1150 by the Almohads, the city was in decline until the 17th century when exiles from Spanish Andalusia arrived and set up a legendary corsair republic which lasted for 41 years until its demise in 1668. The Andalsians left an indelible mark on the town, rebuilding the Kasbah (where the fictional Robinson Crusoe spent some time imprisoned) and building the Medina which has a definite Andalusian hue.
The French added their boulevards and new developments at the beginning of the 20th century and now further exciting changes are afoot. Current plans are to join Rabat with Salé, north of the river, to form a united environmentally friendly city with exemplary architecture at the mouth of the Bouregreg estuary.
‘Starchitects’ Foster Brothers and Zaha Hadid are involved in this ambitious project, the latter having designed the future Grand Theatre of Rabat which aims to be Rabat’s showcase icon. It will in fact house two theatres plus a spectacular outdoor seating area for a 7000 strong audience. You can already see the results of part of the first stage: a newly built bridge and a modern tram service connecting Rabat and Sale.
Air France flies to Rabat from London from £336.